Decades into the HIV epidemic, a cure for the virus continues to frustrate scientists. Challenges at the heart of the problem are HIV’s uncanny abilities: It incorporates itself into the genetic material of cells, constantly replicates and can remain latent, or dormant, in viral reservoirs. But researchers from Temple University and the University of Pittsburgh recently published findings in the journal Molecular Therapy that hail progress in the search for a cure. Using CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology (sometimes referred to as a genetic scalpel), they successfully used a non-disease-causing virus to “snip out” HIV from mice cells, shutting down HIV replication and eradicating both the active and latent virus—including in mice engrafted with human immune cells. The next step on the road to a human clinical trial is repeating the study in primates. With luck, CRISPR may one day spell CURE.
The social media buzz on this gene-editing technology [SLIDESHOW]